For those of you who have watched Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” and his quest for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle – you know the scene.


For those of you who have watched Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” and his quest for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle – you know the scene.



Ralphie gets choked up when Santa Claus asks him what he wants for Christmas. Ralphie just can’t remember, the crowd, lights and excitement are just too much for him, he just sits there dumbfounded.



Santa asks Ralphie, “How about a nice football?”



They shove Ralphie down the slide to deal with the next child. In a panic, Ralphie stops himself halfway down the slide and climbs back up to tell Santa that he really wants a Red Ryder BB Gun. Of course Santa then announces, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.”



I don’t want a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, but I think it is just fine if a little boy or girl does want one. Pocket knives and chemistry sets to blow stuff up or make stink bombs are just dandy also.



There are just too many laws and people getting into our houses, cutting the toes out of our stockings, trying to figure out what’s in grandma’s dressing and checking our lamps for illegal light bulbs. This country was founded by folks who did take a few risks and probably did some things that weren’t very safe, but with experimentation comes innovation.



What do I want for Christmas?



I have given it a lot of thought. One thing for sure I would like is about 35 years’ worth of incandescent light bulbs. I’m relatively confident that would be enough for the rest of my life.



We need Thomas Edison.



Thomas Edison was a mama’s boy, and by that I mean his mama had a lot to do with his success. He even noted, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”



Children need at least one person that makes them feel this way – someone who is sure of them. Someone who sees the potential All-Star instead of the broken window, the artist instead of the paint on the carpet and the future scientist instead of the smoke stains on the ceiling.



With Edison, his father was probably not a bad man; he did live long enough to see how successful his son was going to be. However, within three weeks of Thomas Edison’s mother’s death, his daddy did start a “new relationship” with the 16 year-old housekeeper. Edison’s father was 67 at the time. Thomas was 8 years older than his step-mother to be.



In researching Edison’s lineage, I found a book from 1907. In the book, it described Thomas Edison’s father as “… a man of fertile resources and of great energy of character.” This description leads one to believe that he married a teenager when he was 67 because he had a lot of energy or something…



Edison’s mother just seemed to have more impact on his education, teaching him at home when the schools could not properly tend to the needs of a partially deaf child and also could not handle his constant curiosity and need to ask questions.



Good mothers are the best question answerers.



You know the bottom line – Thomas Edison was/still is the most successful inventor in history. He held almost 1,100 U.S. patents and hundreds more in other countries. One of his most famous inventions was of course the incandescent light bulb.



Yes, Thomas Edison, the same Thomas Edison whose teachers said, “He is too stupid to learn anything.” This is the same Thomas Edison who was fired twice for being “non-productive.”



And when asked how it felt to fail 1000 times (in inventing the light bulb), Edison replied, “I did not fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.”



I bet the ghost of his mama whispered that in his ear.



Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb is being phased out.



First the 100-watt (2012) and 75-watt bulbs (2013), now this year is the last of the 40 and 60-watt bulbs. I will not get into the politics of this, but I will say that it is about the same thing as telling me not to use real butter and eggs in the dressing.



Point of Education - you call it “dressing” when you don’t cook it in the bird and “stuffing” when you do. In my opinion my Mama made the best, hopefully yours did too. Also if you don’t use cornbread, you shouldn’t even try.



As on January 1, 2014, it will be illegal to manufacture or import traditional 40 and 60-watt bulbs. A lot of the big box stores have stockpiled the Edisonish bulbs, but they will not last through 2014.



What does it all mean?



Mainly it means instead of paying about 75 cents per bulb, you’ll be paying a whole heckuva a lot more. Again the politics of it could be discussed, but blaming it on the same fellow that everyone likes to blame for natural disasters is a dog that won’t hunt.



I just don’t know. They say you will save money by buying these new-fangled bulbs, but they come with their own set of dangers.



There are folks who say these new compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, the ones that look like spirals can cause seizures in folks who are susceptible to flickering lights. Some seizures can be brought on by flickering lights, I know that to be true.



Senior citizens sometimes find it difficult to read the newspaper and do the crossword puzzle under fluorescent lights. I prefer Sudoku puzzles, but I do understand the importance of reading and figuring out a 7-letter word that begins with an “a” and ends with an “e” meaning “showing a lack of good sense or judgment.”



They say people who have Lupus and other auto-immune type disorders can get severe rashes from fluorescent lights. I don’t know if that is accurate, but my Mama suffered from Lupus and I wouldn’t have wanted her or anybody else getting severe rashes.



The scary part is with some of these lights, you need a manual to cleanup your floor/house if you break one. Oh, none of us would ever break a light bulb, would we? The Environmental Protection Agency has a very specific list of 10 or so steps that you should take if you need to clean up after you drop a newfangled light bulb.



But the new bulbs last longer….



The new ones do last longer if you turn them on and leave them on. However, if you switch them on and off a lot, it affects how long they will last. So just leave them on all the time? The same 7-letter crossword solution mentioned previously comes to mind.



I do not know all of the specifics, I just know the last light bulb manufacturer in the U.S. closed in 2010 (Winchester, VA). This new ban on light bulbs was also going to create jobs. Again, maybe I’m missing something.



All I know is that I like the old light bulbs and I like the sound they make when I drop one by mistake on a hardwood floor. It goes “WHHHOPPP” in a beautiful way that Edison’s mother would appreciate. I get the broom and the dustpan and I clean it up. I don’t call the EPA.



So for Christmas this year, I’d like a whole lot of incandescent light bulbs, some of Thomas Edison’s father’s “great energy” and to continue knowing my Mama believed in me.



As Mama said, “You probably won’t get everything on your list.”



A 67 year-old man with a 16 year-old wife?



I know how Mama would have answered that question.



My lights flicker just thinking about it. My lights might even bubble or boil kind of like my Grandmama’s Christmas tree lights did in the 1960’s. Sometimes you had to thump them to get them going or bubbling. To that, I would say, whatever cranks your tractor!



Merry Christmas!



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